Slightly OT: but I’ve always found a white background to be hard on the eyes. I set the default edit window BG to buff (255,255,225). It makes it much easier for me.
Comment 1: I thought I remembered reading somewhere that green is the most restful background, so I had a dig and sure enough, according to “Human Vision and the Effects of Colour” We were taught in school that green is the most restful background. All our blackboards used to be green for that reason. I don’t know whether that’s fact or folklore.
Comment 2: That all got a little garbled (my mind was elsewhere but don’t ask me where). What I meant to be saying is that although that website repeats the theory that green is the most restful background, there’s nothing to substantiate it, it’s just the usual bare assertion. So I wonder if it’s just one of those frothy ideas that get stated as fact and repeated and never questioned. We would be interesting to know whether any studies have ever been done. I don’t think its OT at all; it seems to me quite likely that factors like colour and lighting can affect workload tolerance levels.
Comment 3: I remember the original study into contrast and readability. The ideal was researched to be dark green and very light blue, but white chalk was cheaper and nearly as good. Nothing about restful, though. As for restful – may be for walls, but for a screen? We all remember green monitors, and the eyestrain they caused, so I’m not certain about that. Remember typing for hours and then seeing everything as pink/red? Studies also give conflicting results. NASA did a lot of work on instrumentation and came up with White, Black, Blue and Orange as the most effective colour combination for instrumentation and screens, which ISTR that Airbus also use for their glass cockpits. They were also the colours chosen for the Amiga, but the blew it by using orange for decor instead of alerts. I agree totally with your point about workload tolerance. A glaring white screen tires me much faster than the one I use. The alternative, making the “white” less bright, tends to cause eyestrain. Typing with a broken arm – please forgive errors.
Comment 4: Amazing effect, the after-image. I once repainted a pastel green room with off-white with pinkish overtones. The two colours turned out to be exact after-images of each other. It was almost impossible to see where I’d painted and what still needed to be covered – even though, superficially, the colours were quite different. There is an interesting article about the physiology of colour perception, written by an IBM HCI engineer. I see now where the “green is restful” idea comes from (when the eye is at rest, it’s green that strikes the retina without any need for refocusing) but it’s obviously an over-simplification – especially, as you say, when the colours are coming out of a display screen. I think this is probably worth a little experimenting. It looks like my orange and blue colour scheme is going to have to go.
Comment 5: I always set Windows default background to pale blue with black text, and because I use voice recognition (DragonNaturallySpeaking). I have the default font size as 15 pt, Bold, Arial for entering text into Dragon and then it puts it back into usual size and format (12 pt, Normal, Roman 12) when I paste back into my WordPerfect document – makes it so much easier on the eyes. But on reflection, I suppose there’s no reason, if you were dictating a simple piece of text and not into fields, say, that you couldn’t set up large bold fonts in a word processing application and then select and change it all once you’d finished.
In addition, my employers (some time ago now) paid for me to have special glasses (rather than my reading or distance vision glasses) with the lens focus at 26″ (the length from screen to my eyes when just touching the screen with the tip of my fingers). I managed to get them to pay for these, as I would only need such glasses to be able to see my work VDU screen (no home PC then), and my employers’ nurse found I could not see properly with either my reading glasses or my distance glasses, which I had bought myself. Perhaps a way for others on this list to get a pair of glasses that suits their VDU viewing distance? Just a thought. I found these things made working all day with the computer screen much easier. It always amuses me, when you look at Settings in the Display Screen icon and see some of the ready-made Windows colour settings, what sort of colours the Windows programmers considered people would want to use – lots of black, purple and orange, like how I imagine a bad psychedelic “trip” would have been, back in the 60’s.